Twenty-five-year-old Alessandra Rajkumar is a chemistry major graduate who holds minors in Environmental and Natural Resource Management and Analytical Chemistry. She also has a knack and love for formulating natural skincare products that are eco-friendly. In fact, the birth of her brand ‘Wakely Wonders’ couldn’t be more timely considering that the beauty industry is costing the earth a good bit with the excessive use of plastic containers, microbeads and harmful chemicals within formulae.
This young creative describes herself as a person who sees the value in always retreating to the simplicity of life and surrendering to her inner space. She finds great value n formulating natural and safe products and the planet earth that we call home. Often identified by her distinctive facial birthmark, Alessandra has developed a greater sense of self-worth and a profound appreciation for the simpler things in life. “I am an epileptic where the cause is actually linked to my birthmark and because of this gratitude is something feels with each and every moment of my life. With that being said, one can see why planning has become such an important aspect of my life.”
It is with this mindset we can appreciate her contribution to the local beauty industry with products that help us feel just that - beautiful. In addition, they are a combination of products that help us to improve our way of living through the use of recyclable materials for sustainability and longevity of the earth. The XX Team had the pleasure of chatting with this environmentally conscious, skincare formulator and businesswoman about her work. Check out her responses to our questions below.
1. Tell us more about your academic background.
Although challenging, Chemistry is so very much rewarding. My minor ENRM presented me with a deeper awareness of the world around me and it was a part of my tertiary level journey that gave me an avenue that was more leisurely than academic. Throughout my time spent at University, I also partook in a couple of cultural courses at the Confucius Institute which brought light to a completely different side of life. It enlightened my senses and connected me to others halfway around the world. I’m so thankful for the serendipitous opportunities I had to partake in these different avenues and I think we all should explore in this way as humans living our multifaceted experiences.
2. Why did you choose to create Wakeful Wonders?
I felt like I was waiting for someone to have a business like this for me to support. After looking, everyone still used plastic packaging, additives and artificial ingredients. It was then I knew a niche had to be filled in a world that is moving towards a more sustainable direction. I felt the need to provide options that were more eco-sustainable with the idea of ultimately raising awareness. I believe in the power that words hold and I wanted to have a name that would really make someone think. Change begins with consciousness, awareness and being ‘WAKEFUL’ of the things we do and how we impact the planet but there is always room for question and WONDER.
3. Tell us more about the brand.
My brand is simple, small and I plan on keeping it as local as possible, from ingredients to distribution. Self-sustainability has a huge part to play when it comes to decreasing our carbon footprint. I just want to make from the ingredients and resources provided by my land and my people. Whatever is made will cycle back into my community - Sweet T&T.
4. Why is it important for you to make eco-friendly and natural skincare products?
I think this world in which we live is so amazing and far too often I look at my nephew and the children in my life and I just really want to give them something with what I can do. After graduation, absorbing knowledge was still a necessity. I began researching countless documentaries and articles and there it was, I came to one study on how chemical sunscreen components such as Oxybenzone affects our reefs, damages our cells and can possibly cause skin cancer. There was the seed for the genesis of my natural skin care lines.
5. Did you always have a love for formulating skin care products? How did you start?
In all honesty, my skin care regime was just a couple of raw oils - maybe make a couple of scrubs here and there - but I liked to keep my ingredients as minimal as possible. I had a moment during my academic career. Chemistry and Industry was the name of the course at the time and our teacher, Doctor Forde, just went quiet and looked at us with this gentle intensity saying that as Chemists, we already had the tools we needed to make whatever we wanted. That really stuck with me and even in the face of never studying business, my heart was there. After thoroughly researching formulae and function of possible ingredients, I took action. I invested my savings and began making my own sunscreen which I used all through 2018 until I was confident enough to launch for 2018 summer vacation.
6. Who is your role model?
My dad, he is such a hard worker and stays true to his word. Everything he executes is done with integrity and to the best of his ability - that is something I will take with me throughout my life.
7. What struggles have you faced building an eco-friendly brand and being a part of the local beauty industry?
My biggest struggle arises in situations here when I need to bring materials into the country. There are only so many things I can source locally so when I am importing, I try my best to reach out to providers and request the omission of plastic packaging. There are a lot of local beauty industries in Trinidad but I am confident in my brand and I believe all brands should be as well. We all have our unique fingerprints molded and refined by the culmination of countless sources of inspiration. Much respect to all my fellow skincare business owners, keep doing you.
8. Tell us about your experience thus far, as a businesswoman in the Caribbean market?
It’s empowering, warm and full of life. The journey has brought so much euphoria and gratification to my being. I would be lying however if I didn’t mention that there are moments when doubt creeps in, but, never cease to give thanks. Often, look back on how far you have come, a change in perspective will always bring light. Your accomplishments will inspire you and motivate you to keep pushing to be better.
9. Any advice for young women who aspire to be a businesswoman like yourself?
Trust the process and keep at your dreams and plans. In all honesty, the only prerequisite is a good idea and a little cash to build on. Any inspiration you stumble upon, write it down and plan to the finest of details as you go along. It is important to envision your goals - both long term and short term - however, be aware and stay grounded in the practicality of the present moment. Celebrate after, and only after, your goals are met.